Wingate informed the Sixers of his decision last night, before their 100-96 victory over the New Jersey Nets. He is expected to have the surgery sometime in the next two weeks.
While conceding that surgery is an "option," Sixers orthopedic specialist Dr. Ray Moyer made it clear that he doesn't agree with Wingate's decision.
"From our reading, (the tendon) looks normal," Moyer said. "There is no obvious defect there that I can see. It's a debatable point whether he needs surgery. I have reservations about surgery. I think his knee can get better on its own."
Wingate, who played in just 33 games this season and was averaging just 4.2 points a game, has been bothered by knee problems for the last two years. A few weeks ago, he decided to get a couple of additional medical opinions. He had the knee examined by Dr. Russell Warner, who is the team physician for the New York Giants, and Dr. Joseph Ciotola, an orthopedic specialist from Baltimore. Ciotola is expected to perform the surgery.
"If he's going to have it," said Moyer, "it's better at least that it be done by somebody who thinks this is the next step."
If the tendon in Wingate's right knee is indeed ruptured, it will not be able to be repaired with arthroscopic surgery. Moyer estimated Wingate's rehabilitation time at between four and six months. But he said it is "not a certainty" that Wingate would be ready to play basketball in six months.
"The good part is that whatever kind of surgery he has, he will have an extended rehabilitation," Moyer said. "And that can be nothing but beneficial to his knee."
The Sixers will have their work cut out for them tonight when they travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the Atlantic Division-leading Knicks. The Knicks have won 26 in a row at the Garden, the fifth-longest home winning streak in NBA history.
The Boston Celtics own the longest home winning streak (38 games, from
December 1985 to November 1986).